2 million Illinoisans expected to travel Memorial Day weekend

Most of those getting away will be hitting the road, with travel likely to peak Friday, AAA said.

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Travelers arrive for flights at O’Hare Airport on May 25, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. AAA projects about 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, 3.4 million by air. This represents a 7% increase in the number of travelers from 2022. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775979136

Travelers arrive at O’Hare Airport Thursday. AAA projects about 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend.

Scott Olson/Getty

Memorial Day is coming up, bringing beach days, barbecues and weekend getaways for many Chicago and Illinois residents.

The number of Illinoisans planning to get away over the holiday weekend is up compared to the last three years, according to a news release from AAA.

Memorial Day, a federal holiday, will be observed on Monday.

Over 2 million Illinois residents are expected to travel at least 50 miles by car, plane or other means of transportation this weekend, a number just shy of 2019’s all-time record for Memorial Day Weekend travel, the release stated.

Across the U.S., AAA expects to see 42.3 million people traveling this weekend.

Of the 2 million Illinoisans traveling, over 1.8 million plan to travel by car, the release stated. It won’t just be the roads seeing more travelers this weekend — Chicago’s airports will experience high volume too.

Chicago expressway traffic.

Plenty of people will be hitting the road during the three-day holiday weekend.

Sun-Times file

The Chicago Department of Aviation anticipates over 1.5 million people will travel through O’Hare and Midway airports from Thursday through Tuesday. This is a nearly 9% increase over last year’s number of Memorial Day travelers, according to a news release.

This spike is projected to be even more pronounced at Midway, the release stated. The West Side airport is expecting an increase in volume of over 20% compared to Memorial Day Weekend last year.

International travel is up this year too. AAA reported international travel bookings are up 250% compared to last Memorial Day Weekend.

Travelers should plan to arrive early to the airport to navigate longer wait times in security lines, the release stated.

The aviation department release called Memorial Day weekend the “start of summer travel season,” and advised travelers to take measures to avoid traffic and congestion at the airports. The release recommended travelers use public transit if they can and to take advantage of cellphone lots and drop-off points if they drive.

Congestion won’t be a problem just at the airport this weekend. Driving is the preferred means of transportation for 88% of travelers, and road trips are expected to be up 6% this year. Traffic likely will peak on Friday, AAA’s release stated.

AAA is also expecting a high volume of calls for help from stranded motorists. The branch for Illinois and Northern Indiana estimated it will rescue nearly 500,000 drivers this weekend.

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